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gholem says

Hi all,

I hope I’m in the right forum with this issue.

I would like to know more about the themes business, the “how to” and “when”. I want to buy themes from ThemeForest and install them (modify them if necessary) to my clients.

But how do I get to do this? I can’t advertise myself as a web designer and then give them ready-made themes (it must be illegal as well not to make this clear) and I can’t find clients if I’m stating with big fonts that I’m not doing much of web design work, just buying themes and customize them if needed.

I don’t know how to / when to ask a client if he’s alright having a TF theme or tell him that I’m going to use a TF theme for his company website. To send him have a look on ThemeForest and pick a theme he /she likes will probably result in him not going through me and just buy it from TF in the first place and maybe ask some one else to install it / customize it.

So what I’m asking, is it possible and if it is, how does one do this?

I want to be honest with my clients and convince them to hire me to take care of their website issue, from A to Z. Basically, they need a website and I can address their need properly, even without making the template myself. But I need to inform them that the theme has been bought from here and it wasn’t custom-made for them in particular.

Thank you very much for any input, much appreciated. I just hope I’ve managed to make some sense with my questions.

George.

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Gifky says

I would say advertise yourself as web designer and when you get a potential client offer him 2 options: customization of template or building custom-made site for him with proper price.

That way you can get both types of jobs. If you don’t want to create custom-made projects and plan to be taking only customization work, I’m sure would be easy to find a partner in design who wouldn’t mind taking those projects.

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digitalimpact says

Hey George,

It’s definitely not illegal (many people buy on behalf of their clients); I would only call it immoral to take credit for all the work.

As long as you’re not simply re-selling the product “as-is” (which is illegal), but instead, you’re customizing themes for your clients – it’s perfectly fine. Again, there are a lot of freelancers/agencies here that do it.

What I definitely recommend, is to be 100% transparent with your clients – have them understand what you do and where the added value comes from them hiring you.
By using a template you’re not selling them a design you didn’t create, you’re actually selling them time, as this is one of the advantages of templates.

As you said – be open and set clear expectations. The value I always see in templates is that a great site can be customized and turned around very fast; value which businesses/clients will always appreciate.

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AlexFjord says

You sound very sensible!

People who advertise themselves as “developers” or “designers” but only use templates is a pet hate for most professionals. Of course there are circumstances where it may be the obvious option but as you and the others rightfully said it is all about being transparent and up front honest.

Those who are not are not so much being “illegal” as “Utterly dishonest and unprofessional”.

The way I see it is that if you disguise the truth and then the client finds out then you will look a LOT worse than if you tell them up front and as others again have said there is nothing wrong with you still charging for your time to customise a design.

Really anyone who cannot modify themes for client purposes (and there are a few on here who are in that boat) should not be charging for services. Regretfully it still happens and I believe is one of the things that makes people think it is easy or cheap to do what we do. Also remember those who use themes – what happens if they set something up and its all good until the author stops supporting it and then an upgrade causes problems. Wat happens when the “developer” cannot fix it?

As has been said there are items when it makes sense, but as a web professional you should as you rightfully said be pushing to give the best option (cost irrelevant) for the clients requirements and provide the most professional service. As long as you remain honest and clear from the start then you will be fine, and it is genuinely refreshing to hear there are still those who give this the appropriate thought. Good luck

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gholem says

Thank you both, Gifky and digitalimpact, your answers definitely help and bring light to my question.

For digitalimpact:
It’s definitely not illegal (many people buy on behalf of their clients); I would only call it immoral to take credit for all the work.

But isn’t it illegal to sell a product when you don’t clearly state that the product is not unique or that the owner is not the only owner of that product? I mean, if someone expects that his/her website is custom-made for them and later finds out that, in fact, the “same” look/template is on 100 other websites I’m guessing there’s going to be a long face. It’s not that the client would be lied to on purpose, it’s that omitting to say that he/she is not the only owner of that template could come back and bite hard. I’m only guessing, obviously; regardless of any legal issues there’s always a moral issue that needs to be addressed, like you well said.

For Gifky:
That way you can get both types of jobs.

That’s what I was planning to do, yes.

One more question (if I’m not breaking any rules by posting it here) and I’m done: is the TF affiliate program worth the while or it’s usually a lot of work with little satisfaction? I’m asking from the perspective of someone who never blogged about WP, themes or Open Source.

Again, thank you very much for your answers!

George.

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digitalimpact says

Again, as long as you’re not selling the template “as-is” (read: selling your customer exactly the template itself, as it was sold to you), you will be fine.

There is a moral issue with taking credit for a template author’s work, see AlexFjord’s first paragraph. Just remember, Karma sees everything :)

Customizing a template to create websites is what templates are for, there’s no law that says you are not allowed to sell template customization services to your clients.

Of course, depending on your contract/agreement with your client, this can be a very different story. (i.e. if you have a client contract clause demanding for original work and you hide the fact that you used a template, something like this can get you sued, I suppose).

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gholem says

You sound very sensible!

Probably this is why I’m not being taken seriously on other forums. :) Just kidding.

Thank you for your kind words, Alex. I worked with some “developers” myself: somehow I learned that I know more about WP than they did. And I’m no developer.

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